Physical and spiritual breathless escape. The infamous Queen was out to get him, to make mincemeat of him. Where could he go to escape the prophet-hunter?
“South. South. I must go south – as far as I can from her dragon-like, prophetic-consuming appetite.” He ran and ran, collapsing in despair, depression and self-destruction. God came to him in a deep sleep, tip-toeing round his foetal-like body, with a loaf of fresh bread just baked in heaven’s oven and a jug of fresh cool water from heaven’s springs, placing them by his head. He came again shaking his prophet awake. Speaking solitary words to the broken man “rise up and eat, and drink!”. The prophet sat up and guzzled and slugged the provisions of heaven until he lay back with a satisfied burp and fell asleep again. Heaven’s kitchens repeated the menu of fresh bread and water. Another shake and the prophet was awake and given instructions to eat, get up and embark on a long long journey of 40 days and nights into the deserted wilderness, into the solitude and the silence.
He stepped away from the bush, headed south, south, south. Finally the Mountain of God sat dominating the skyline. He clambered up the side following in the steps of Moses his prophetic hero.
There was no-one around. He took in the sights and sounds of the mountain top, the cleft in the rock, the cave, imagining the wonder of the revealing glory of God to Moses all these hundreds of years before.
The cave became his refuge. A place to shelter and sleep. God came again, this time with a question: “do you know why you are here?” The Prophet’s response was full of self – self-justification, self-pity and self-defensiveness. God then promised that he would pass by, if he abandoned the security of the cave and stood in the open, vulnerable and exposed.
Empty hurricane – no God. Empty earthquake – no God. Empty fire – surely he would come in the fire! – no God. God had not come. Only silence, deep, mountain silence. But the sound of silence was filled with presence, as silence between longtime lovers is pregnant with conversation beyond the confines of words and sentences. The intimate, close up and personal whisper of heaven caressed his prophetic ears again. Baulking and then receiving these sounds of silence – new purpose, new vision, new commission. A life-giving, expanded prophetic calling. The silence echoing with history, reverberating with sounds of God’s silent presence. With a quickened step he took up his call and set out down the mountain.
God came. He came in many phenomena and forms. He came in words and he came in silence. At the dawn of Advent 2019 feel the stir of the Spirit drawing you into solitude, silence and fresh intimate revelation of God and his purpose for your life as he comes to you in silence.
Graham Black is married to the lovely Hazel, is a friend to God and many who need a listening ear, and he has spent many years of his life faithfully praying for his city of Aberdeen. He is a man well acquainted with the silence and solitude he writes about here and is a wonderful story-teller.